Stellantis, the automotive behemoth that has no fewer than 16 brands in its portfolio, including Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep, wants to make cheap EVs more readily available with a bit of help from a new Chinese partner called Leapmotor.
After a $1.6 billion (1.5 billion Euro) investment, Stellantis will own a 20 percent equity stake in Leapmotor’s parent company, and the two will set up a joint venture that will – you guessed it – export the Chinese manufacturer’s battery-powered cars in other parts of the world.
The new JV, called Leapmotor International, will be incorporated in the Netherlands and the first market to get the affordable Chinese EVs will be Europe, with more scheduled to follow, according to Stellantis’ third-quarter financial results call.
In other words, the United States might finally get a low-cost but technologically advanced EV thanks to Stellantis’ latest venture, but until that happens, we’ll have to wait and see how Leapmotor’s cars will fare on the Old Continent, where there are already a few sub-$25,000 EVs to choose from.
In fact, Citroen, which is part of Stellantis, recently revealed the new European-built e-C3, which starts at around $24,500 (23,300 Euro). There’s also the Chinese-made Dacia Spring from rival company Renault that goes from $24,000 (22,750 Euro) on the list of no-frills EVs, so it will be interesting to see how the automotive group will price the cars it will be importing to Europe.
The cheapest model made by Leapmotor, the pint-sized T03 that measures just 142.5 inches long, starts at about $10,900 (RMB 79,500) in China, before tariffs and country-specific value-added tax (VAT), so there is some wiggle room, at least at first sight.
Gallery: Leapmotor T03
But Leapmotor also makes the more expensive C01 sedan and C11 SUV, along with their extended-range (EREV) versions, so the jury is still out on how Stellantis will market these Chinese cars on the Old Continent, especially considering how Leapmotor has focused on the mid- to the high-end market in its home country, according to Stellantis’ own press release.
The first batch of exported EVs will reach European shores next year, with the newly formed joint venture targeting 500,000 sales outside of China by 2030, plus an additional one million cars per year in China in the long term.
Stellantis CFO Natalie Knight said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that the new brand is aimed at consumers “who are cost conscious but want the best technology in their products,” referring to Leapmotor vehicles’ ability to receive over-the-air (OTA) updates, as well as their proprietary “Four-Leaf Clover” Leap 3.0 centrally-controlled electric and electronic architecture.
With all this in mind, do you think a cheap, Chinese-made EV sold by Stellantis will ever make it to the United States? Let us know in the comments below.